Organisations that break the forthcoming NHS code on advertising and marketing should be forced to pay up or lose contracts, the Royal College of Nursing has suggested.

In its response to the Department of Health's draft code of practice for the promotion of NHS services, the RCN called for 'sanctions with real teeth' to punish rule breaches.

In a response to the DoH consultation, which closed last month, the RCN said it was important that governance arrangements for promotional information and activity include tight controls, reviews and comprehensive monitoring.

The RCN supports proposals to exclude actors from medical dramas appearing in adverts. Attention is also drawn to the potential for abuse in placing advertising alongside programmes with a medical theme.

The response also adds its weight to considerations for tight controls on the use of well-known healthcare professionals campaigning for a particular hospital or service. The RCN offers support for an exclusion of celebrity endorsement other than in circumstances where the individual 'had actually used the services in question'.